Keeping Schools Open During COVID-19 Has Been Challenging — But CRSM Proved It Can Be Done

Jan 31, 2022 | Academic

The past two years have brought many challenges and CRSM educators have worked tirelessly to keep students healthy and learning in the classroom and at their corporate work-study jobs.

Recognizing the critical role that CRSM plays in student’s lives — academically, socially, and emotionally
 —became more and more evident as CRSM focused on reasonable steps to stay open safely beginning in June of 2020.

For Principal Mike Odiotti,
 part of his role over the last two years has been monitoring IDPH and CDC data as leadership planned the approach to school operations. With data indicating that the latest COVID-19 surge is ebbing away as quickly as it ramped up, Odiotti says, “I am hopeful this continues and that in upcoming months we will be able to do away with some of the mitigation strategies we have had to employ since reopening our classroom doors in June of 2020.”

When COVID-19 closed schools across the country, CRSM teachers and staff adapted, inspired by students who reminded them that we are a community of “grit” determined to succeed.

It’s been no small feat, the business of keeping 400 student-workers in school and on the job because many corporations are still working remotely and cannot have students come in for internships. But, through pivoting, innovating and firm resolve; 100% of students have been placed in jobs for the 2021-22 school year.

During the first year of the pandemic, CRSM modified its school schedule to allow students two full days per week of in-person instruction. In September last year, the entire student body returned to full-time classes. The all-school assembly, held at the beginning of this academic year, marked the first time in two years that students, teachers and staff were able to gather as a community. Although everyone was wearing masks, “everyone’s eyes were smiling,” said President Preston Kendall. “The air crackled with excitement – it just felt right, like a giant step toward normalcy.”

Despite the pandemic, CRSM students had many achievements:

  • 99% of students earned a GPA of 2.0 or greater in the first semester of the 2021-2022 school year.
  • 81% of students are at or above 3.0 or higher and are on the honor roll for the same period.
  • We are again on-track for 100% of our seniors to be accepted into either a four-year college or university or to Arrupe College (a two-year program from Loyola University Chicago preparing students to eventually earn a four-year degree).
  • 95% of our work-study partners expressed satisfaction with student performance, despite the challenges of remote work for many.
  • Students and staff donated almost 1,000 community service volunteer hours during this fall semester: each monthly drive-up food distribution with Northern IL Food Bank serves over 500 families, in addition we pack thousands of meals weekly with the food bank and Feed My Starving Children and more.